More frustration for Norwich City in a 0-0 Championship stalemate against Nottingham Forest
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Nelson Oliveira's absence was the main talking point after Norwich City were held to a 0-0 Championship draw against Nottingham Forest at Carrow Road.
Oliveira was a notable omission from the squad with head coach Daniel Farke opting to start Dennis Srbeny.
City again carved out a number of openings but much like Bolton last time out on home soil they lacked any conviction in the final third.
Srbeny will need time to adapt.
Definitive judgements should be reserved as a result, but there was little patience shown from his head coach when he failed to get across his man in the early stages to meet James Maddison’s driven cross.
City may have changed the identity of their attacking spearhead but it was a frustratingly familiar script in the first half.
Moritz Leitner pulled the strings with creativity and an intelligence that underlined he is one recent import who can cut it in the English second tier.
There were also positive signs from Onel Hernandez, who enjoyed the wide open spaces to probe with Leitner and Maddison establishing a degree of control - for all Forest’s threat on the counter.
But that punch proved maddeningly elusive before the interval.
Ben Brereton could have raised the anxiety levels a notch or two even higher for the home fans when he collected the influential Kieran Dowell’s pass but dragged an angled shot beyond Angus Gunn’s far post.
Josh Murphy rose unmarked to meet Maddison’s corner in the 18th minute but the towering frame of Costel Pantilimon denied him with a one-handed parry.
Murphy was foiled again from Srbeny’s cool initial set which invited Maddison and Hernandez to carve open the visitors on the edge of their penalty box.
Grant Hanley bailed out Timm Klose at the opposite end when the visitors’ threatened, to a nod of appreciation from his centre back partner and something approaching an ovation from the City support. Hanley has proved an unqualified success; an astute acquisition for all the focus on the lack of an end product.
His aerial presence, his leadership and calming influence on those around him are key cornerstones of what Farke is trying to build for what remains of this season and beyond.
Pantilimon thwarted Harrison Reed and Murphy again prior to the break, after Srbeny was unable to divert Maddison’s teasing ball across the Forest six yard box.
The precociously talented youngster is perhaps the only member of Farke’s roster immune from any criticism about his goal output. But even Maddison’s radar went awry early in the second period when Hernandez’s cut-back was venomously thumped into the Lower Barclay.
The England Under-21 tried an elaborate couple of stepovers to lose Ben Watson but pulled his left-footed shot wide just past the hour mark. That, in essence, is Farke’s Norwich as an attacking force; pleasing on the eye but lacking the killer instinct - with or without the truculent Oliveira.
When a pitch invader triggers the biggest cheer of the night you know the entertainment factor is in short supply.
Once apprehended, normal service resumed. Albeit it was Dowell with the wayward finish skied over Gunn’s bar.
Farke introduced Marley Watkins and Wes Hoolahan. Murphy and Srbeny made way. As auditions go, you would have to say the young German will need to return for a read back or two between now and May.
Hoolahan fizzed and crackled with intent. Maddison exchanged passes to drive into the area but Hanley lurked just behind his close range cut back.
Gunn remained alert to foil Brereton in the 86th minute with red shirts flooding into the box as City had to settle for a fifth consecutive league draw.
• Norwich City: Gunn, Reed, Klose, Hanley, Lewis, Tettey (Vrancic 86), Hernandez, Leitner, Maddison, Murphy (Hoolahan 72), Srbeny (Watkins 72). Subs (not used): McGovern (GK), Pinto, Zimmermann, Husband.
• Bookings: Tettey (foul on Cash, 84); Maddison (foul on Brereton, 90)
• Nott’m Forest: Pantilimon, Figueiredo, Osborn, Fox, Cash, Brereton, Colback, Dowell (Vellios 79), Lolley, Darikwa, Watson. Subs (not used): Kapino (GK), Mancienne, Guedioura, Bridcutt, Murphy, Worrall.
• Bookings: Figueiredo (foul on Murphy, 34); Colback (foul on Hernandez, 44); Brereton (foul on Hernandez, 80); Watson (unsporting behaviour, 85); Darikwa (foul on Vrancic, 87)
• Time added on: 1 minute / 4 minutes
• Referee: Darren England (South Yorks)
• Attendance: 25,184
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